While the poultry business struggles to recover from the impact of Covid-19, which has reduced prices of eggs and chicken; the high mortality rate of poultry birds due to unknown reasons during the current winter season has further marred the sector.
Insiders maintain that certain owners, who are not capable of meeting expenses of feed and management of birds along with labor costs, are preferring to sell their birds on cheap rates. Meanwhile, some of the owners are looking for compensation from the government.
“When Covid-19 broke out, the prices of eggs fell drastically. One egg had gone down to Rs 1.50 paise. We were at an extreme loss. I preferred to sell my poultry birds at cheap rates. I even handed over my poultry birds to someone without charging a single penny. Recently, I was thinking of starting my business again, but the high mortality stopped me,” said Sumit Kumar, owner of a poultry farm.
Mortality of poultry birds goes up every winter season, but this year-round it is quite high. A visit to Barwala, one of the largest hubs of poultry farms in Asia, suggests poultry businessmen are not willing to discuss the high mortality of poultry birds, and instead preferred to wait for reports from the regional laboratory in Jalandhar.
The owner of a poultry farm, which saw at least 7,500 birds dying, requesting anonymity, said, “We are afraid that if any disease is diagnosed during the samples’ examination, we will have to face a huge loss again. Currently, egg production is being sold in the market.
Birds are also being sold. But if the diseases are declared, our birds and their egg production will not find any place in the market.”
Thousands of gunny bags of poultry feed are lying unattended in several poultry farms. Neither the farm owners can serve this feed to birds nor re-sell the feed in the market.
The only option they have is to destroy it, said sources. There are around 140 big and small poultry farms in the Barwala belt of Panchkula, adjoining Mohali district of Punjab. A major portion of eggs, chicken is supplied to UP, Bihar, West Bengal etc.
“It is a tough time for the poultry industry. We have just started recovering from the setback of Covid-19. As transportation was closed, the supply of eggs, chicken was completely shut during the lockdown. People were also preferring to not take non-vegetarian products. Our fingers are crossed. We are waiting for the reports from the concerning laboratory. Indeed, the mortality of poultry birds is reported every winter season, but this time it is quite high,” said Darshan Kumar Singla, President of Poultry Farm Association.
“Authorities should send the samples of birds to High-Security Animal Disease Laboratory, Bhopal, for ascertaining the concrete reasons behind the high mortality. The mortality is being also reported in Karnal, Rohtak, Panipat. It is a matter of concern,” said SK Khanna, a retired Poultry Development Officer from Haryana.
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